$1.5 Billion To Renovate Port Harcourt Refinery, ‘Suspicious’, Says Atiku

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, has described as “suspicious” the plan Government to spend $1.5 on the renovation or turnaround of PortHarcourt Refinery.

Atiku made his position known in a statement he personally signed and emailed to Newsdiaryonline.

He said given the dire state of Nigeria’s economy hallmarked by an all-time unemployment and inflation rates it would be unwise to spend such amount on the PortHarourt Refinery.

Atiku said, “That Nigeria’s economy is in dire straits is a fact well-known both to the nation and to our partners. Unemployment has just an all time of 33%, while inflation has hit another record of 17%. 

“At this critical period, we must as a nation be prudent with the use of whatever revenue we are able to generate, and even if we must borrow, we must do so with the utmost responsibility and discipline. 

The former Presidential candidate of opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, added, “To therefore budget the sum of $1.5 billion to renovate or turn around the Refinery would appear to be an unwise use of scarce at this critical juncture a multiplicity of reasons.”

Explaining his reason taking this position, Atiku said, “First of all, our refineries have been loss-making multiple years, and indeed, it is questionable wisdom to throw good money after bad. At other times, I have counselled that the best course of action would be to privatise our refineries, so they can be run more effectively and efficiently. 

“Moreover, the cost appears prohibitive. Too prohibitive, especially as Shell Petroleum Development Company last year sold its Martinez Refinery in California, USA, which is of a similar size as the refinery, $1.2 billion. We must bear in mind that the Shell Martinez Refinery is more profitable than the Refinery. 

“Given this discrepancy, might we ask if there was a public tender before this cost was announced? Was due diligence performed? Because we are certainly getting value for money. by a long stretch. 

“We cannot as a nation expect to make economic progress if we continue to fund inefficiency, and we are going too deep into the debt trap for unnecessarily overpriced projects. 

“Our national debt has grown from ₦12 trillion in 2015 to ₦32.9 trillion today. Surely that is shocking enough to cause us to be more prudent in the way we commit generations into the bondage of bonds and debt,”Atiku said.